Hezekiah showed wisdom in not responding to the Assyrian leader when he spoke blasphemously against God. He instead went with the letter into the presence of God and prayed with great sorrow and grief about how God was dishonored by this arrogant official of Assyria. He spoke of God’s sovereignty and power – and how that was denigrated by the words which Rabshakeh spoke. Then God spoke on the matter. The words which God said were truly terrifying when you consider what happened shortly after God spoke them through His prophet Isaiah.
'But I know your sitting down,
And your going out and your coming in,
And your raging against Me.
'Because of your raging against Me,
And because your arrogance has come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose,
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back by the way which you came.
2 Kings 19:27-28
Those are sobering words for God to speak. In them God makes it clear that He is both omniscient and omnipotent. He is omniscient for He knows the sitting, the coming, the going, and the raging of the king of Assryia. Nothing has escaped God’s notice. He has seen the dishonor and disrespect of this ungodly king and his general. Before the night is over – 185,000 of his men – actually according to Chronicles – the entire leadership of the army (for those killed were all the officers of the army of Assyria) was killed. They awoke to see their entire officer corps become their officer corpses. They did the only thing they could do – turn and go home just as God’s prophet declared. And awaiting this arrogant king was a judgment of his own. He too was killed due to a plot against him within his own house – again – just as God said.
God’s description of how He will deal with this arrogant general and king are very clear. God is about to put a hook in the nose of these arrogant men. The kind of hook here is a piece of metal that was driven through the nose and then attached to a chain by which the prisoner was led around. Since we live in a day when a nose ring is often seen as a piece of jewelry - it might be wise to think of this ring in terms of what they put into the nose of a cow to lead it about when it is particularly unruly. God also promised a bridle in the lips. This was a piece of wood or steel that was usually put in the mouth of horses and attached to reins by which the master could turn the head and direction of the animal quickly. To resist the bridle was very painful. So this proud king and general who would do whatever they wanted – even to God’s people – were about to be led about with a hook through the nose and a bridle in their proud mouths. One would have to admit this was a very humbling way to be led about. Yet it is a warning to all who would dare think they will run their lives however they want – and God has no control over them. His lack of immediate action is mercy – and the arrogant would be wise to see such kindness by God as a call to repentance and not as a vote for them to continue in their rebellion.
Far too often the rulers of this world think they can rebel against God and do anything they want. Yet it is here – and also in Psalm 2 – and in Psalm 75 that we read of the “real facts.” God is King and God is Judge. He is the One Who knows all – and who has the power in His omnipotence to act in keeping with His righteousness and holiness. For those of us in power – not only over entire nations, but also when we are foolish enough to think we have power over our own lives – this is something to remember – and honestly – to tremble about as we consider our own arrogant statements of what “we will do with our own lives.”
There is One God – One Creator – One Owner – and One Judge over all. Jehovah is that One, and it would be wise for us to remember that whenever we wrongly think we are sovereign and can do whatever we want.